Most freshmen who earn a varsity letter in high school do so by accepting a unpopular but necessary role on their school's athletic team.
But Carson High freshmen Lindsey Perondi and Neil Holmes are in the thick of the Northern 4A Zone tournaments in their first year of high school as varsity members of the softball and baseball teams. The two also share more than the distinction of being the lone freshmen on the two Senator squads - they're also cousins.
Perondi is an outfielder/pitcher for the Senators, who will be playing Reno High today at noon at Reed High. Holmes is a second baseman for the Carson team that plays Reno High tonight at 7 p.m. in the winners' bracket final at McNutt Field on the Carson High campus.
"It runs in the family - my brothers play, Neil plays, I play," said Perondi of the family's tie to ball-and-stick sports.
Perondi, whose mom is the sister of Neil's stepmom, started playing softball at age 11 with Carson coach John Sullivan's summer league team. Her dad also coached a team and "it went on from there."
Even though she already knew Sullivan, Perondi said she was no lock to make the Senator varsity.
"I didn't think they were very high," said Perondi when asked about her chances of sticking with the varsity after tryouts. "It's been fun. You get a lot of stuff from the other players, like calling you 'freshman' all the time, but other than that, it's a lot of fun."
Sullivan said Perondi, likely to become a starting pitcher after the graduation of Nicole Freeman, Melissa Stone and Kendra Carlsen, made the choice about whether she should play for the varsity or junior varsity an easy one.
"In the preseason, Lindsey worked hard and showed us a lot - she had great skills, so we brought her up," Sullivan said. "She's done real well. The coaches are pleased with her play and we think we made the right choice."
With a letter this season, Perondi could potentially join current Senator seniors Nicole Freeman and Kellie Karasek as a rare four-year letter-winner in softball.
Holmes, 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, has been playing ball even longer than Perondi and also has strong family ties to the Senator baseball program. His older brother is former Senator player Jason Holmes.
"I've been playing baseball ever since I can remember," said Holmes, who moved to Carson City from Southern California when he was 6. "Because my older brother had played for him, Coach (Ron McNutt) has known me since I was a little kid."
Like his cousin, Holmes didn't think he had much of a chance of making the varsity.
"I thought I'd try real hard to make it, but would be playing JV," said Holmes, who is one of senior Brian Kleidosty's understudies at second. "I went everyday after school and worked real hard before the season even started."
As would be expected, both have recorded modest statistics this season. But just like the better-known senior stars who are expected to carry the Senator teams today, the freshmen are eager for their game's first pitch.
"I'll be nervous," Holmes said. "I want to win. These guys (Reno) have already beaten us twice. I want to go out and have a good game if I'm in."